Hughes Network Systems’ Peter Gulla on Mail Tracking
Because so much of the direct marketing process is based on the probability of whether a prospect will take certain actions, marketers put significant stock in gathering as much information as possible about their contact with the target audience. For Germantown, Md.-based Hughes Network Systems, a provider of broadband satellite networks and services, mail delivery dates are an important factor in running an efficient prospecting program.
The marketer’s target audience is households located in areas that are not served by DSL or cable Internet providers but that would like high-speed Internet access. The HughesNet service is a high-end item—plans start at $59.99 a month, depending on whether you pay for equipment installation upfront—and so it requires consideration before a purchase is made. Hughes Network Systems uses an outsourced call center to handle prospect inquiries and sales orders.
According to Peter Gulla, Hughes Network Systems’ vice president, testing has proven that multiple mailings to prospects work best to build awareness, motivate the customer to research the service and then convert. The firm uses a mix of postcards (produced and mailed by Modern Postcard) and other self-mailer formats, but relies primarily on the former since “they produce a yield that’s better on a cost-per-sale basis,” Gulla says. Regardless of mailing format, Hughes Network Systems applies the U.S. Postal Service’s PLANET Code to all its campaigns; the PLANET Code is a special barcode that allows the USPS to track mail as it travels through the mailstream.
Gulla spoke with Target Marketing to explain how mail tracking has become an integral part of his firm’s direct marketing success.
Target Marketing: When did your firm start using PLANET Codes in its direct mail efforts, and what led you to implement this solution?
Peter Gulla: I think we started in 2003, so we’ve been doing it for about four years.